Most people assume that the only audience for modern Korean popular music (K-pop) is teenagers. As a result, they also assume that K-pop music lacks longevity. However, the presence of longtime fans suggests that K-pop remains appealing to some fans for years. The existence of adult fans challenges the notion that K-pop only appeals to teenagers. This multiple case study seeks to understand why individuals remain K-pop fans for years and why adults find K-pop appealing. For three years, I will be asking questions about these atypical fans of K-pop. This survey contains several open-ended and multiple-choice questions that ask how fans see themselves and ask about their K-pop music preferences and fan activity. Please take the survey!
Beyond the Classroom: Undergraduate Research and Digital Humanities
CUR 2016 Biennial Conference | Tampa, FL | June 23-28, 2016
Students may be “digital natives,” but how can we channel their informal interaction with digital environments into a rich research experience? This presentation shares digital tools that students can use for Internet research and explores the challenges of working on co-curricular collaborative digital humanities projects with undergraduates.
Undergraduate research is often constructed within a curricular context, focusing on the face-to-face experience between an instructor and student as crucial to mentoring and the transmission of inquiry and research skills. This presentation shares the experience of a collaborative digital humanities project conducted through the Internet. Because of its digital nature, the project invited students globally to participate as research assistants. Students were trained, received feedback on their work and participated in a research community almost entirely in a digital environment. As a result, new models of engaging students online emerged from the project. The project introduced students to an array of digital tools and trained them in skills that they could use in their curricular lives beyond the project. At the same time, the project encountered several challenges involved with motivating an undergraduate population outside of a course working on an unfunded project. The presentation will explore how the digital presents new opportunities for undergraduate research, especially in areas where faculty mentorship exists outside of the institution.
A recent clash of opinions over the status of Kangin, a member of the Korean pop group Super Junior, exposes fault lines that can occur with transcultural fandoms.
SM Entertainment issued a statement about Kangin’s recent DUI accident. Not satisfied with the common period of self-reflection that typically follows a scandal, a group of Korean fans created a petition to have Kangin leave the group entirely. Citing Kangin’s previous drunk driving incident and other controversies, the fans argue that Kangin’s continued presence will damage the group’s reputation: “We see this series of acts not benefiting Super Junior’s image and career at all. Instead we view them as actions that only cause damage. From our position as fans who support Super Junior, we cannot help but discuss this issue that will influence their image greatly” (soompi). However, comments on soompi’s Facebook post for the story reveals criticism of those who support Kangin’s departure. This is typical of several posts: “Not true fans of Super Junior, if they want Kangin to leave the group.”
Such opinions reveal fault lines in the fandom that fall along lines of national identity. The original petition was brought by members of the Korean community site DC Inside, which cannot be accessed by those outside of Korea. While all who support Kangin’s departure are not Korean, the non-fan and anti-fan characterization of those who do certainly applies to the Korean fans who created the petition. Such statements overlook the contextualization of these fans. Operating within Korean culture, they reveal the danger they see to the reputation to the group, which plays differently inside of Korea than it does outside of Korea. Subtly, fans who criticize the Korean petitioners ignore the Korean context and unwittingly impose their own cultural expectations.
Bertha Chin and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto argue that transcultural fandom offers “the possibility that a fannish orientation may (at times) supersede national, regional and/or geographical boundaries” (99). This certainly describes times when the transcultural fandom is in agreement. However, controversies often reveal how national perspectives inform how fans interact with one another over a controversy. Fandoms contend with notions of authenticity generally, creating hierarchies to determine who is a “real” fan. However, a scandal seems to make these existing fault lines even more pronounced.
With no in-depth knowledge of the petitioners, some fans question their identity as real fans. This is particularly odd given the history of the E.L.Fs, or Everlasting Friends, the Super Junior fandom. These fans reportedly have a history of taking action surrounding the membership of the group. Reportedly, they protested at SM Entertainment when it appeared the agency planned to add additional members to the group. Others have suggested that E.L.F’s pooled their money to buy SM Entertainment stock to become stockholders and have a say in such decisions. Documentation of such events are difficult to locate, but such stories point to the tendency for this particular fandom to be deeply concerned about the membership of the group. Moreover, given that this is a Korean pop group, it is intriguing that fans largely outside of Korea would question the fan identity of the petitioners.
Adrian. “Some Fans ‘Abandon’ Kangin; Ask Him to Leave Super Junior.” hellokpop. 26 May 2016.
Chin, Bertha and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto. “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies. 10.1 (2013): 92-108.
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